Of all the concepts and ideals, liberty is the most sought after and the most cherished. Liberty is a primal urge and desire of all creatures and humans. Yet liberty is often misunderstood by its many advocates. It is also one of the most frequently thwarted ideals on earth.
Universal liberty is perhaps one of the most controversial and difficult subjects throughout the history of humanity. Many residents of the United States believe that the USA was the first “free” country on earth.
Actually, liberty and freedom were encoded as public policy and statute by at least 2,400 BCE in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash, the king enacted the first known legal code designed to protect the citizens from the rich and powerful elite. The kingdom also practiced the first instance of the concept known as “due process”. That is, you could not be forcibly compelled to sell your property. You also had the right to be informed of the charges against you before you could be punished for committing a crime.
In the ancient Buddhist Maurya Empire in India, followers of all religions, ethnic groups and genders had rights to freedom, tolerance and equality on an egalitarian basis. This revolutionary atmosphere was outlined in the Edicts of Ashoka the Great. The emporor Ashoka also condemned the practice of slaughtering or capturing prisoners of war. Great retrograde forces of tradition and ignorance caused resistance right from the beginning. This is much the same as freedom and civil rights legislation in today’s USA.
Even in ancient Greece and Rome there were limited forms of liberty. However, the liberties were only allowed to Roman citizens. These included the first forms of bureaucratic democracy in the establishment of republics.
These ideas were put on hold and dis-established until the age of enlightenment when they again came to fruition with the American and French revolutions, based on political liberalism including the contentious ideals of economic and social liberalism. These pit unrestrained market concepts against the right to dissent from orthodoxy and established authoritarian structures.
The most modern, accepted definition of codified liberty is found within the document called the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Among other things is says, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person”.
So we have arrived this far in humanity’s struggle for freedom and liberty. We have quite a ways to go until we reach the nebulous goal of “freedom and liberty for all” in the United States, let alone the same struggle for it by people elsewhere.
People Actually Hate Freedom
Most of the problem remains in the basic human urge to oppose freedom. This is a basic obstacle inherent in most people. Nearly everybody claims that they want liberty and freedom most of all. Yet when they are presented with the real opportunity to exercise liberty, they refuse to do so. That is because to be at liberty and free means that one is fully responsible and accountable for their actions, be those actions successful or not.
Worse yet, many advocates of liberty only wish that liberty be granted to themselves but none at all to others. There have been many psychological studies done on this topic. But a person can generalize and deduct that people tend to seek and selfishly guard what is valuable for themselves and prevent others from attaining it. This is commonly known as the scarcity ethic.
Loving Universal Liberty
What is needed is the knowledge of the abundance ethic. That is if you give and allow love, you will receive more love in return in geometric proportion. This works in the category of liberty, too. The more that we allow that other people can do what they want (without harming others), the more we will be allowed to do (without harming others).
Giving liberty, yields liberty. When the slaves were freed there was ultimately more freedom and less strife for everyone concerned. When women gained suffrage, more liberty for everybody was attained. When civil rights are granted, more civil rights and liberty come back to the population at large.
The continued struggles for civil rights in the United States and elsewhere can only bring about more liberty and justice for all in the world. If you’ve encountered the concept of “win-win”, that’s what I’m trying to communicate here.
Do we have the guts to enjoy our liberty and to allow ALL other people the same exact thing? It’s a scary idea.
The Blue Jay of Happiness enjoys the unrestrained liberty and freedom of the wild. But that’s another topic for another blog post.